Pike held the book close to his face, tracing his fingers along the letters as he read.
“Until today, I never realized how wise it was to leave the boy with you. New information has been revealed to me and I have reason to think he could be even more dangerous than previously thought.
“While it was always possible Evan Burl was only a minor sapient, capable of little more than a street magician. I now believe it’s likely he will become one of the most powerful sapient’s this world has ever known. Not just deadly. Pure evil. Likely even stronger than me.
“I’m submitting evidence that was collected long ago for a test, a special process that will reveal who, or what, the boy really is. I expect the results of this test will take some time. In fact, the boy may come of age before I can contact you again.
“Unless you hear from me, go through with the plan as I’ve previously instructed. When the time code below reads zero, we’ll know more. If I’ve come to the wrong conclusion, it could be the death of him, but at least we’ll be safe.
“If the boy survives the Spider, well, we could all be in a lot of trouble. Even me. Wouldn’t that be something. Terillium Amadeus afraid of a little boy.
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can turn him away from the evil he’s destined for. He may appear to be a normal boy while he’s young, but when he comes of age you will not recognize the monster Evan Burl becomes.”
Pike stopped reading and looked at me. I wasn’t sure if he was worried about how I’d react, or if he was afraid of what I might do to him.
“Is that all?” I said.
After a long moment, he turned back to the page and continued. “I assure you, this is a matter I’m quite positive on. Turning Evan to good is simply not possible. It’s just not in his genes.
“In any event, Good Luck.
“5 years, 11 days until the falling.”
A long silence followed Pike closing the book.
“The stories about the monster are true,” I said. “It’s me.”
“Father’s just trying to scare you. He must have known you would find the book.”
“The man who wrote this, Terillium, do you think that’s my father?”
“We better get going.” Pike put the book into his pocket.
“That’s mine,” I said, grabbing at it, but my foot slipped and I fell onto the roof, pulling him with me. We slid down the pitch, bringing a few loose tiles with us. I scrambled for a grip, but every tile I touched broke loose. My hand caught on a nail just high enough to get my fingers around. My body swung sideways as I pulled Pike away from the roof edge. Spreading my legs and arms, I managed to support my weight without knocking any more tiles loose.
After a few heavy breaths, I said, “Almost forgot we’re a hundred feet above the ground.” I peered down at the field of grass and jungle below. I probably should have apologized for almost killing him, but saying sorry was not something I found easy.
Pike’s whole body shook, but I was steady as stone. I always figured I’d learn to fly if I fell from the tower. Falling somehow felt natural to me. I’d seen birds learn to fly by jumping from their nest. Why couldn’t I do it too?
Glancing sideways at me, Pike breathed out then laughed. “You’re going to kill someone someday.”
“Yeah,” I said, trying to laugh too, but wondering whether he might actually be right. That’s what monsters do. Kill people.
Shifting, I started the climb down, but put too much weight on my knee and the tile broke loose. Cursing, I hit the roof and three more tiles slipped. Pike tried to stop me, but he slipped too. Our hands clasped together, but there was nothing I could do to stop our momentum. Our bodies rolled over the edge of the roof. I caught both hands on the eve. Pike caught one. We dangled in the air.
“I’m slipping,” he cried.
I tried to catch my feet on a window ledge, but wasn’t quite tall enough to reach. I watched Pike’s fingers slip off the wet clay and was just able to grab him. Hanging by one hand, I held Pike with the other.
Groaning from the strain, I felt my fingers slipping. I heard something above us, sliding down the roof. A baby cried. The chest. I knew in that instant I would not be able to save them both.
The chest toppled over the side.
I felt Pike’s fingers slipping from mine. My eyes locked with his. Then he was gone, plunged into the darkness below. My fingers grasped at nothingness, as if I expected to pluck Pike from the night air. The casket whooshed past. I clenched at the grass sling, grasping it at the last possible moment. It swung beneath me like a clock’s pendulum, smashing through the glass window in the topmost room of the tower. My hand slipped off the eve as the chest clanked onto the wood floor.
For a moment I thought I was flying. Just like a bird. But it was only the feeling of weightlessness.
I was just an orphan and orphans cannot fly.